Further to our earlier reporting regarding the government’s attitude to the Architect’s Registration Board and specifically the composition of the board itself, I can report that the Planning Minister, the Hon. Sonya Kilkenny, introduced new legislation to revise the ARBV board into the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday 7th March. The government has advised that the ARBV board needs to be modernized to appropriately protect consumers and that changing the board composition is the appropriate mechanism to achieve this.
The new Building Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 https://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/bills/building-legislation-amendment-bill-2023 seeks to include much of what we contested mid-last year, when legislation of a similar name found its way into the Legislative Assembly with the additional minimum requirement of three registered architects sitting on the board in lieu of zero proposed last year. The headline attributes of the current legislation in comparison to the existing are:
- Board reduced from ten members to nine
- A minimum of three architects required on the board (down from five)
- Minister is to select all members (formerly a combination of elected, nominated and appointed)
- Minister is to select the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson (currently both elected by the board)
- Terms to be five years (in lieu of three)
Subsequent to our public campaign launched mid-last year accompanied by significant lobbying of Members of the Legislative Council, there have been a series of meetings with government and the Minister of Planning which provided an opportunity to explain the role and duties of the ARBV and how understanding the education and practice of architecture is fundamental to the successful discharge of the duties required of the board. The resultant increase to three architects is a result of that advocacy and is certainly an improvement to the legislation that was introduced last year.
Since the introduction of the amendment bill currently before the Legislative Assembly which is due to be debated this week, the Institute has been briefed by the Minister of Planning’s advisers and the Department of Transport and Planning on the mechanics of the proposed ARBV. In particular we have been verbally advised by DTP:
- The changes being wrought to the board are a reflection of the government’s intention to modernize all regulatory boards at this time into nine member ‘skill’ based (rather than representational) boards
- There is a well established governance strategy on the merit based appointment of board members which will include advertising, seeking expressions of interest from professional bodies and using commercial agencies to seek the best candidates. Government has undertaken to contact the Institute when board members are being sought.
- The Chair and Deputy Chair of the ARBV are to be architects which will facilitate their representative role at the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia with its management of the National Standard of Competency for Architects
We must be mindful that that the purpose of the ARBV is to provide consumer protection to the community in the deliverance of architectural services. Clearly this is best achieved through a high quality board and our view is the board must be properly resourced with architects from the breadth of architectural practice in addition to government and academia which is a view we have consistently presented to government and will continue to do so.
David Wagner FRAIA